MACON, Ga. (Sept. 20, 2013) – ETSU head volleyball coach Lindsey Devine became the all-time winningest coach in program history as the Bucs defeated Mercer, 3-1 (25-18, 25-14, 23-25, 25-13) on Friday night inside Hawkins Arena.
Devine secured her 172nd career victory to move past Kelly Andrews for the most wins in ETSU history, while junior setter Jamie Rutledge (Kingsport, Tenn.) also reached a special milestone in the Atlantic Sun Conference opener. The Kingsport, Tenn. native recorded her 2,000th career assist in the first set and finished with 40 assists, moving her career total to 2,029 in 66 total matches played.
A pair of Bucs posted double-doubles in the win as senior Megan Devine (Kingsport, Tenn.) and junior Ivey Rice (Johnson City, Tenn.) accomplished the feat for the Blue and Gold. Fresh off her record-setting effort in the win at Tennessee, Devine ended with 19 kills (.320 attack percentage) and 20 digs, marking her 59th career double-double, while Rice registered her third straight double-double with 11 kills and 15 digs.
After being swept in the conference opener at Mercer a year ago, the Bucs got revenge and improved to 7-6, 1-0 by recording their third straight win. Meanwhile, the Bears suffered their ninth straight setback and dipped to 1-10, 0-1.
“It’s always important to win these conference road matches and I thought we did a good job being prepared for the challenge,” said coach Devine. “We told the team this morning that it’s a new season and every team will be bringing their “A” game in conference play, so we have to be ready and play our best game in these matches.”
The Bucs were ready for the challenge by using a strong run late in the first set and carried all the momentum into the second as ETSU picked up the program-setting win for Coach Devine.
“I am very honored to be able to be a part of the ETSU program and be in position to coach successful teams," Devine said. "I have been given the opportunity to coach great players and be among assistant coaches who have stuck with me as they have contributed to these wins. I am happy for the program, because they earned these wins and I have been lucky to be a part of this honor. These milestones are great, but we couldn't have reached this achievement without the support of everyone in the athletic department and throughout campus."
In the first set, the Bucs controlled the majority of play as ETSU won the final six points to earn the 25-18 win. The Bucs jumped out to an early 9-6 lead, forcing the Bears to burn a timeout after Meredith Hardy (Kingsport, Tenn.) recorded one of her four kills in the set to put the Blue and Gold ahead by three. Mercer responded out of the timeout as the Bears pulled even at 14, 15, and 16, but the Bucs didn’t budge. With the score knotted at 16, Rutledge found Khadijah Wiley (Columbus, Ga.) for the kill, which put ETSU up for good, 17-16. Eventually, the Blue and Gold won nine of the final 11 points for the win, while Rutledge registered her 2,000th career assist when she found Ivey Rice for the kill to put the Bucs up 22-18. Seven different ETSU players accounted for the 16 kills in the opening set, while Hardy was a perfect 4-of-4 in her attempts.
The Bucs led wire-to-wire in the second and took a commanding 2-0 lead in the match following their impressive 25-14 set win. ETSU won six of the first eight points of the frame and Mercer never answered as the Blue and Gold continued their dominating play. Following consecutive kills by Ivey Rice later in the frame, the Bears were forced to burn another timeout as ETSU led, 17-11. From there, the Bucs continued adding to their lead and cruised to the 11-point victory. ETSU was flawless in the set as the Bucs didn’t have any attack errors en route to posting a .542 hitting percentage (13-0-24). Meanwhile, the Bears couldn’t generate any positive momentum on offense as Mercer hit -.061 (8-10-33) in the frame and were out-blocked 5-0 by ETSU. Devine and Rice were unstoppable in the set as they combined to hit .588 (10-0-17). Both players totaled five kills in the second.
After dropping a tightly contested third set, which saw six ties and three lead changes, ETSU stormed out of the gates in the fourth and never trailed in the 25-14 clinching victory. The Bucs opened up a 7-1 lead to start the stanza and never looked back as the Blue and Gold built a 14-point cushion when one of Devine’s kills made it a 22-8 contest. The Bucs hit .333 (8-1-21) in the frame, while holding the Bears in the red for the second time in three sets, -.061 (8-10-33).
As a team, the Bucs took over at the net as ETSU – the A-Sun leader in blocks – out-blocked Mercer, 15-2. Hardy, who has now recorded at least one block in 75 consecutive matches, finished with eight blocks along with nine kills and a .421 attack percentage. In addition, Wiley added seven blocks, four kills and hit .444. Junior Katie Muey (Alexandria, Ind.) also had a solid night as she posted 17 digs and a career-best nine assists. The Bears entered the match as the top A-Sun team in digs, but the Blue and Gold held a plus-11 margin on the stat sheet, 70-59. ETSU also out-hit Mercer, .295 to .115 and the Bucs tallied eight more kills than the Bears, 53 to 45.
“One of the strong parts about our group is we are a good blocking team,” said Devine. “We do a solid job of slowing balls down and changing the mentality of our opponents based on whether we get good touches. We knew if we could slow it down and execute off those plays then we would put ourselves in a great place to win this match.”
Mercer was led by Molly Locke’s 15-kill, 12-dig performance.
The Bucs return to action Saturday afternoon when ETSU takes on Kennesaw State inside the KSU Convocation Center. First serve is set for 3 p.m.
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